Saturday, February 19, 2011

“Anonymous” Issues Ultimatum To “Graceless Sociopaths” at Westboro Baptist Church

Mashable reports that the hacktivists who form "Anonymous" have threatened Westboro Baptist Church with irreversible damage to their websites and congregation if they don't close their websites and cease their protests. Based on their experiences with Wikileaks opponents and in Egypt, they are obviously able to carry out their threat.

Given Westboro's antigay stance and protests at the funerals of soldiers and celebrities where they make frequent references to hate, hell and numerous slurs I don't imagine that many feel particularly sympathetic at the moment. That aside it does raise a question regarding the responsibility of society to protect free expression and to protect its members from abuse.

So is this a case of vigilante justice, repression of free speech or activists accomplishing what government and law enforcement can't do?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wrestling with faith in Iowa

Faced with the choice of wrestling a female opponent, Joel Northrup decided that his faith and conscience wouldn't let him. So he forfeited the match.

Some may decry this as sexist; others may complain that his "right" to compete has been infringed upon and still more may declare him some sort of modern day "saint" for his "sacrifice.

All that aside, I think it was the proper outcome.

If Joel believes that his faith won't permit him to wrestle a female opponent, and varsity wrestling requires wrestling both male and female opponents, then Joel's faith limits his ability to wrestle at the varsity level. Rather than attempt to change the rules for everyone else, he accepted the limitation imposed by his faith and forfeited in such a way that he may win the consolation round (assuming no female opponents).

This is how religion should be treated in society, with everyone given equal access to opportunities, but people choosing not to act on some opportunities because of faith or other beliefs. This is pluralism. This is Humanism.

Looking at some of today's issues such as equal marriage and science education, the principle is the same-if religious believers feel that their beliefs don't allow them to share marriage with a same sex couple or to learn about Evolution, then they can live without civil marriage (still getting married in their faith tradition) and find an alternative educational path.
The early christians living in the pagan Roman Empire knew this when they avoided certain professions such as tutor, soldier and gladiator-let's hope their heirs can as respectful of modern secular society.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vatican letter on sex abuse from '97 revealed

An Irish bishop has provided the media with a letter on sex abuse from '97 confirming that the vatican ordered the Irish church not to disclose abuse to the authorities. CBC news reported that the vatican declared the Irish churchs' policy of mandatory abuse disclosure contradicted canon law.

This provides the media with the first hard evidence of the vatican's role in covering up abuse. While the contents of the letter have been spoken of, this is the first instance where a copy of the letter was made public.

For all of the catholics out there who have demonized the media for not accepting the vatican's claims of innocence, please go and sodomize yourselves with the largest, bluntest object within your reach.

In the case of Bill Donohue, chief whitewasher of the abuse crisis, that would be his head.